DWGMSFF Glossary

Glossary

Ranks of the wives of the emperor.

Every three year young women between the age of 13 to 16 were required to present themselves to the Forbidden City for selection which is called ‘selecting beautiful ladies’. There were two categories for the selection. One was for the daughter of officials whom were called beautiful ladies. These ladies will be inspected. Those who passed the inspection will get a higher rank and will be inspected again. After each inspection there would be women who would be eliminated. Those who passed through all the inspections could then present themselves to the emperor. The emperor and the empress, sometimes also the empress dowager will select the ladies they like and gave them a rank. The second category was for the daughters of commoners. They were called palace maids. Although palace maids weren’t wives of the emperor, but they were required to stay virgin till the moment they could leave the palace which was usual at the age of 25. 25 was considered very old in those times.

  1. The empres (huanghou): there’s only one in the palace. She’s the main/official wife of the emperor. She managed the affairs of the harem and is considered the owner of the six palaces. She also could command 10 palace maids and has her own palace. Usually the emperor marries her not because of love but because of her family’s power. However, only she could be buried next to the emperor in the imperial tomb.
  1. The imperial noble consort (huangguifei): there’s also one in the palace. She is only ranked second to the empress. She could command 8 palace maids. She also has her own palace. Usually, she’s the one the emperor loved the most.
  1. Noble consort (guifei): there were two in the palace. They could command 8 palace maids and had their own palace.
  1. Consorts (fei): 4 in the harem.
  • Gui: noble
  • Xian: virtuous
  • Shu: kind and gentle
  • De: moral

All of them could command 6 palace maids and had their own palaces.

  1. Imperial concubines (pin) : 6 in the harem. They also had 6 palace maids, but don’t have their own palaces. They live together in one palace.
  1. Noble ladies (guiren): unlimited number in the imperial harem. They could have 4 palace maids and also share one palace with each other.
  1. First class female attendant (Changzai): unlimited number in the harem. They could have 3 palace maids and also share a palace with each other.
  1. Second class female attendant (daying): unlimited number in the harem. They could have 2 palace maids and share a palace with each other.
  1. Beautiful ladies (meiren): unlimited in number in the harem. They could have 2 palace maids and share a palace with each other.
  1. Talented ladies(cairen): unlimited number in the palace. They also could have 2 palace maids and share a palace with each other.

Ranks of the wives of the prince of first rank and also the crown prince.

  1. Wangfei: main wife/consort of the prince of first rank. Crown princess is the main wife of a crown prince. Their children were the legitimate children and would most likely inherit everything.
  2. Cefei: side concubine. A prince could have two side concubines, but their children won’t be registered. When they married to the prince, they weren’t allowed to wear red. Red was only for the main wife. They also weren’t allowed to marry through the front door. They were carried in through the side door.
  3. Shiqie: unlimited number. There’s no wedding ceremony here.
  4. Tongfang: lowest rank of a concubine. Usually maids whom the prince took a fancy on.

Chinese terms:

Aijia: I, used by an empress dowager

Bengong: this palace/ I, used by females of the imperial family

Benwang: this king/ I, used by the prince of first rank

Buyao: a hairpin that shake with every steps you take

Cefei: side concubine/ second ranked wife of a wangye

Chennu: your subject’s daughter/I, used by daughters of officials

Chenqie: this subject wife/ I, used by the wives of the imperial family

Chongxi: arrange a wedding for a very ill young man with the hope that the ’event of great joy’ will drive away his bad luck and hasten his recovery

Gege: big brother

Gongzi: young master/ also used to refer a famous man

Gugu: aunt/ father’s sister

Guye: son-in-law, used by wife’s family

Guzhang: uncle/ husband of a paternal aunt

Guzheng: Chinese zither with 16 or more strings and movable bridges

Jianghu: world of the martial arts

Liuqin: four stringed Chinese mandolin

Niangniang: used to call all the females of the imperial family by others

Qieshen: this concubine, literary meaning is undefined status. Used by wife or concubines of the royal family or officials to refer to themselves in front of their husband. Concubines also refer to themselve like this in front of the main wife

Qin: Chinese zither

Qinggong: the ability to move swiftly and lightly at superhuman speed, and perform gravity-defying moves such as gliding on water surfaces, scaling high walls and mounting trees

Wang/ wangye: the prince of first rank

Wangfei: the main wife/consort of the prince of first rank

Wangfu: the residence of the prince of first rank

Xiangfu: the residence of the prime minister

Yuan: residence

Zhen: I, used by the emperor